Guyuk Khan

Image Source: Public Domain

About Guyuk Khan

Lifespan: 1206-1248 A.D

Reign Years: 1246 – 1248 A.D

Given Name: Borjigin Guyuk

Reign Name: Dingzong

Güyük Khan – Yuan Dynasty

Guyuk Khan was the Mongol Empire’s third Great Khan and the eldest son of Ogedei Khan. He was also the grandson of the great Mongol Emperor, Genghis Khan.

His rule lasted from 1246 until 1248 and was his father’s successor.

The Young Guyuk and His Rise to the Throne

Guyuk Khan went under military training and was an officer who worked under Genghis Khan. When his grandfather died, he later served under his father.

He was chosen to take the throne as the Mongol Emperor in 1246. This decision was partly due to the help and influence of his mother. Guyuk was highly influenced and motivated by Nestorianism, a type of Christianity considered blasphemy by Christians from the West.

His ascension to the throne was resented by the conqueror Batu of Russia, who was also Genghis Khan’s grandson.

During his enthronement just outside the Karakorum, it’s said that Guyuk was surrounded by gold and the like. According to the Franciscan friar, Carpine, he stated that Mongolian vassals and nobles were offered gold, silver, and precious stones. Of course, they were given other types of valuables as well.

At this time, it is said that there were over 500 carts filled with those mentioned precious items. There were even carts of silk gowns available. All of these were divided between the emperor and his chiefs.

From there, his chiefs would segregate the shares among their men.

Issues with Batu

Out of jealousy and envy, Guyuk Khan was challenged by his cousin, Batu. He was the son of Genghis Khan’s eldest son. His cousin refused to appear during the Kuriltai, where Guyuk was proclaimed the Great Khan or Mongol Emperor.

Guyuk led his army to the west to meet his cousin. Yet en route, he died of uncertain reasons.

Either way, his death prevented a war that already greatly divided the Mongol Empire. After his death, his widow, Ogul-Gaimish, attempted to control the throne as long as she could. The reason for this was to prevent the sons of Ogedei and his brother, Chaghatai, from taking over the throne.

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Reign of Guyuk Khan

It wasn’t until the summer season of 1246 that a Kuriltai was started at the Karakorum to choose Ogedei’s successor. This occurred mainly due to the political manipulation of Batu, together with other princes who wanted to be elected.

While purposely stalling in Bulghar, Batu established Sarai on the lower portion of the Volga River. It was to stand as the capital of Khanate of Kipchak, better known in history as his Golden Horde.

Between the years 1242 and 1246, Teregene, Ogedei’s widow, acted as regent to prepare Guyuk as the new Khan. During the Kuriltai, the Franciscan friar named John of Plano Carpini was present. He was also sent there to confirm the Mongols’ intentions.

There, he was able to learn that the Mongols were planning to conquer Europe. So, he urged the European monarchs to use the Mongol’s tactics and strategies to prevent the coming aggression and attacks.

As time passed, Guyuk Khan got torn between finishing the Chinese conquest or continuing the European conquest. However, the latter plan was quite complicated due to his rivalry with Batu.

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Death and End of Reign

The Great Khan Guyuk died in the year 1248 while heading to where Batu was to confront him. But as mentioned, he died on the way, and some claimed that his death was due to poisoning.

Others think this death was alcohol-related since he was a hard drinker like Genghis Khan. There were also claims that he died of natural causes since his health deteriorated.

According to the Flemish Franciscan explorer and missionary, William of Rubruck, Guyuk died due to a violent brawl. After his death, that’s when his widow took over as the regent.

Unfortunately, she couldn’t keep the succession within her family since Ogedei’s nephew, Mongke, succeeded the throne. He was claimed as the Mongol emperor in 1251.

Legacy of Guyuk Khan

The death of Guyuk Khan had a great effect on the world’s history. That’s because he planned to turn power against Europe, but his death prevented his forces from attacking Western Europe.

After his death, the politics circling the Mongol family led their efforts against southern China. The area was eventually captured during Kublai Khan’s rule.